Anticoagulation for preventing stroke in atrial fibrillation is under-utilised despite evidence supporting its use, resulting in avoidable death and disability. We aimed to evaluate an intervention to improve the uptake of anticoagulation.
We carried out a national, cluster randomised controlled trial in the Australian primary health care setting. General practitioners received an educational session, delivered via telephone by a medical peer and provided information about their patients selected either because they were not receiving anticoagulation or for whom anticoagulation was considered challenging. General practitioners were randomised to receive feedback from a medical specialist about the cases (expert decisional support) either before or after completing a post-test audit. The primary outcome was the proportion of patients reported as receiving oral anticoagulation. A secondary outcome assessed antithrombotic treatment as appropriate against guideline recommendations.
One hundred and seventy-nine general practitioners participated in the trial, contributing information about 590 cases. At post-test, 152 general practitioners (84.9%) completed data collection on 497 cases (84.2%). A 4.6% (Adjusted Relative Risk = 1.11, 95% CI = 0.86-1.43) difference in the post-test utilization of anticoagulation between groups was not statistically significant (p = 0.42). Sixty-one percent of patients in both groups received appropriate antithrombotic management according to evidence-based guidelines at post-test (Adjusted Relative Risk = 1.0; 95% CI = 0.85 to 1.19) (p = 0.97).
Specialist feed-back in addition to an educational session did not increase the uptake of anticoagulation in patients with AF.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: ANZCTRN12611000076976 Retrospectively registered.